Scams and fraud advice taken from Stay Safe guide June 2023.


A Scam is a fraud where someone tries to trick you out of your money or tries to get hold of your personal information that will allow them to get to your money later. Every scam is a crime. Every scam has a victim. The more you know about scams, how to avoid them and how to report them, then the better protected you will be.

If we were protecting our homes and property against burglary we’d think like a burglar, look at where we were vulnerable and then put protection in place (locks, bolts, CCTV etc.) in order to reduce the chances of us falling victim to theft.

Scams are just the same. Think about the ways you could be scammed, then take simple steps to avoid them and reduce the chances of becoming a victim.

Types of Scam

Just like you’d think about ways a burglar might try and break into your home, we can also think about the ways scammers might get your attention. Each ‘way in’ has plenty of common scams to watch for.

Your letterbox: letters or mail that are more than simply junk. Prizes you have been told you’ve won. Offers that are too good to be true. Legal looking letters that tell you’re due something, but that you need to send money first.

The telephone: callers with offers or telling you have a problem that you need to solve now. They say your computer is broken, or the package has been delayed. Or you’re due some insurance payback.

Your mobile phone: callers again or text messages (such as the DPD fraud) or your (fake) child telling you to send some emergency money!

Your computer/laptop/tablet:

emails scams can be known as ‘phishing’ where the scammer tries to get information from you that will lead them to your money. Often the emails are great offers; time-limited; or include threats.

Websites: not all websites are what they seem. Websites can be fake too.

Social Media: whether it’s on your computer or phone or tablet, social media can be busy and difficult to spot the scams from real messages. And dangerous links can be embedded in videos and messages.

Investment scams: sometimes known as ‘boiler room scams’ can approach you through any ‘way in’.

Romance scams: you’re never too old for romance, but are they who they appear to be? Ultimately they might just be after your money.

Your front door: cold callers knocking at your door offering services or goods without an appointment.

Identity theft: where criminals are getting your personal information together to commit fraud

All of these routes can be used by scammers.

Common Scams

There are so many types of scam, there’s no way to list them all. If you can get a copy of the “Little Book of Big Scams” (visit met. then you can learn about many of them. Keep an eye on something like Which? online which also publishes some of the most common scams.

Just some common examples:

Postal scams: that ask for a fee to get a package delivered. These are usually fake and are after your information.

The daughter/son scam: “Mum,. I’ve lost my phone / It’s an emergency. Here’s my new phone number / bank account”. These

are very common text or social media scams. Get in touch with your child a different way!

Investment scams: very common if you’re being sold investments that you didn’t go and ask for. Very often connected to romance scams – a bogus relationship starts with the intention of asking for money in the long term.

This is your bank… A call pretends to be your bank to warn you about a scam/fraud that is attacking your account and they are going to help you sort it out. This in itself is often the scam. Be polite and say you’ll call back. Use another phone or wait a while and call your bank direct, go through all the security checks and speak to the fraud team. If it was real then you’ll have done a double check. If it wasn’t real then you’ve just saved yourself from fraud.

Social media scams with ‘missing person’ scams being very common, luring you in so you give away your personal information and open yourself up further to scams. Only follow through on things you read online if you can verify the sender or you know someone personally.

Is it a scam?

So how can you tell if it’s a scam?

Sometimes scams are really obvious. If an organisation contacts you that you have no connection to already then it’s

very likely a scam. If there are obvious spelling mistakes or inaccuracies then it could be fake. But many scams are very good at impersonation.

Three really keys things to watch for:

1. Is there some request for your personal information or, of course, money? Someone you don’t know shouldn’t be requesting your data or bank details!

If it really is important (you’ve not paid a bill so you’ll be cut off) then the process to tell you about this and sort it out will not be handled with high urgency.

Watch out for the tell tale signs of emotion and urgency and then Take 5…

Take 5

The single most important tip is to SLOW DOWN. Take 5 minutes to get away from the possible scams, have a think and take back control. Don’t click, respond, react or reply straight away. Can you investigate how real the information or request is? Can you speak to someone else about it?

If a bank or business is contacting you, go and check directly through their website or by phoning them. If it turns out to be genuine then you’ve got peace of mind from double checking. If it is a scam then you’ll quickly find out and you’ve kept yourself safe.

2. Does this request get you emotional? That means does it get you excited (you’ve won a prize!), or does it get you scared or put you into a panic (your bank account is at risk! You’re going to be disconnected! I’m in trouble! Something is broken!)

3. And finally, is it urgent? Does the message want you to do something now, today, immediately (or else…).

Very few genuine communications happen like this.


Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.


Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals with try to rush, pressure or panic you.


Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and then report it to Action Fraud.

Top tips to avoid becoming a victim

It would be impossible for you to know about every type of scam to watch out for. So instead, follow some simple rules to try and make sure you’re being careful:

1. Always remember. If something appears to be too good to be true – it probably is.

2. Never respond to any emails, text messages, letters or social media that look suspicious, or that have bad spelling or grammar.

3. Remember: A genuine bank will never contact you out of the blue asking for your PIN, full password or to move money to

another account. If you receive a message like this, ignore it!

4. If someone you have never met before asks you for money, that should be a red flag. Do not give them any money!

5. Always question uninvited approaches, in case they are a scam. This applies whether the contact is on the doorstep, over the phone, by post or online. Instead, contact the company directly yourself using a known email or phone number.

6. If you are even a tiny bit suspicious, check with someone else before responding to the communication – a trusted relative, friend or neighbour.

7. Never automatically click on alink in an unexpected text or email.

8. Make sure you use strong passwords on all your online accounts and change them often.

9. Always have anti-virus software and a firewall installed on your computer, and update all software as soon as new versions become available.

Trust your instincts. If you feel at all wary or suspicious, you’re probably right!

What else can you look for?

Ask yourself all these questions. If you answer Yes to any of them then there is a risk you are being


Q: Have you been contacted out of the blue? Cold calls or unexpected emails

or messages should raise suspicion, especially if you’re asked to give personal or payment details. It’s very unusual for legitimate organisations to contact you and ask for sensitive information if you’re not expecting them to. If you’re not 100% convinced about the identity of the caller, hang up and contact the company directly.

Q: Have you been asked to share personal details? Never share your personal details with anyone if you can’t confirm they are who they say they are.

Phone scammers will often try and get valuable personal data from you, and they can use this to steal your money, or even to use your identity to use fraudulently.

Q: Are the contact details vague? Scam websites often vague contact details can be a PO box, premium rate number (starting ‘09’) or a mobile number. If anything goes wrong it’s important you can contact those involved. This will be difficult if you don’t have accurate contact information.

Premium rate numbers are also a favoured trick for squeezing every penny they can out of you.

Q: Are you being asked to keep it secret? It’s important you can

discuss any

agreements with your friends, family or advisors. Asking you to keep quiet is a way to keep you away from the advice and support you need in making a decision.

Q: Is the offer too good to be true? Scams will often promise high returns for very little financial commitment. They may even say that a deal is too good to miss. Use your common sense, if a deal is too good to be true, it inevitably is.

Q: Are you being pressured to make a decision? Fraudsters often try to hurry your decision making. Don’t let anyone make you feel under pressure – it’s OK to take a break and think things through if you’re not sure.

Sales staff should always give you time and space to make an informed decision, anyone who tries to rush you should not be trusted.

Q: Are there spelling and grammar mistakes? Emails or messages littered with spelling and grammar mistakes are a scam giveaway. Legitimate organisations will rarely, if ever, make spelling or grammatical mistakes in their emails to you because they’ve been put together by professionals and checked before they’re sent.

Shred it

Don’t throw
paperwork or anything
that includes personal information away in the normal rubbish. If you can shred and destroy paperwork or old cards or even CD’s then the information can’t be accessed by scammers. Identity theft can be worrying, expensive or life altering, so let’s all keep our information safe.

There are a range of community shredders around North East Lincolnshire.
see shredders

or talk to someone about getting things shredded. Scissors are better than nothing, but a cross- cut shredder is your best bet in destroying your data before someone else gets it.

Don’t be ashamed

Many people worry that it is their fault that they are being/have been scammed. Some people don’t like to admit that they are falling for a scam. People don’t like to ask for help because it makes them look bad.

Don’t be one of these people. The scammer/fraudster is the one at fault – not you. We all have to try our best to take steps to protect our- selves, but scammers take their ‘work’ very seriously and can be very clever and we can all be tricked at the best of times.

It is far better to ask yourself questions, then speak with others, and finally to ask for help or report your concerns. We’re all working together to stamp out scams.

Want to know more or do more?

You might be able to help neighbours, family or friends to avoid scams too. Why not become a Friend Against Scams? If you can get online visit www. and take the free training. Or watch out for local training opportunities.

Or subscribe to an e-newsletter from someone like Which? To find out about the very latest scams.

Visit: page/103781/data/1

In our area Fraudwatch is a programme sharing advice about scams through talks and online. Lots of resources and videos at

Report it!

If you’re in the process of being scammed and you think significant money is at risk then call the Police via 999. Otherwise use 101 to report it.

Call your bank immediately (on the number on the back of your card rather than on any number given to you) so that they can protect your finances.

If you’ve been scammed, report it via or call 0300 123 2040.

Forward scam texts to 7726 (spells scam on your keypad)

Report post related scams to

Forward scam emails (phishing) to Over 21 million reports have been made to this reporting line up to May 2023!

If you need support you can contact Citizens Advice or you could talk to any agency or organisation you are connected to (such as a friendship or support group).

Some final tips

If you’ve got a computer, make sure you’ve got anti-virus software on it.

On your mobile phone make sure you’ve got a PIN number or some other security turned on.

Don’t share your passwords or

use the same password for different websites or services. Write your passwords down so you don’t forget them and so you can use more complex ones.

Don’t use the same password for more than one service or system.

If you’re shopping online, use a bank account with just a small amount of money in it. You can always have more than one bank account to keep savings and spending money separate. So keep just a small amount of money in your account that is most at risk. That way if anything goes wrong you’ll only risk losing a small amount of your cash!

Try to never get into agreements on your doorstep, especially from someone who approached you first. Like all approaches from doorstep scammers or others, they try to convince you that you need something. Take back control so you’re the one making the requests not them.

Remember to TAKE 5 whenever you are concerned. That little bit of extrta time gets you back in control.

Don’t feel ashamed – we’re all vulnerable to scams and anyone can be affected. We all need to talk about scams and help each other. Make sure you find someone you can talk to if you’ve got a concern.

Stay Safe. Beat Scams Together.

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